Last week it was announced the Russian Grand Prix would switch in 2023 from Sochi to the Igora Drive venue near St. Petersburg, on a Hermann Tilke-designed circuit.
The newly built track is part of the Igora ski resort some 50km north of St Petersburg towards the Finnish border, nestled in between the Gulf of Finland and the scenic Lake Ladoga.
The Igora Drive circuit, which opened in 2019, has so far only hosted domestic series – with expected visits from the DTM and W Series thwarted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In order to accommodate F1 cars, the current 4km track will receive a planned 1km extension, featuring longer straights and a fast final loop featuring dramatic elevation changes.
Speaking exclusively to Autosport, Alexey Titov – the CEO of Russian GP promoter Rosgonski – said the changes will make the track “an exciting sight”, also featuring banked corners.
“There is a plan that the track is going to be lengthened,” Titov said. “In the current configuration it is closer to the end of the list in length if we compare it with other tracks in the Formula 1 calendar.
“Therefore, it needs to be made longer. A little more elevation difference will be added, some turns will become banked, so from a sporting point of view it will be an exciting sight.”
A track map posted by the promoter on social media revealed the current final sequence of slow corners connecting the front and back straight will be bypassed.
Igora Drive Autodrom map
Photo by: Rosgonki
Instead, cars will swoop into a rollercoaster final loop featuring several left-hand apexes followed by a sharp right-hand hairpin, going up and down a 12% hill.
The 1km extension, which will take Igora Drive’s total length from 4.08km to 5.18km, also ensures both straights will be lengthened to make overtaking in modern F1 cars more feasible.
In addition to the track extension, work will focus on increasing the venue’s infrastructure including adding several garages for F1 teams.
Most existing facilities will remain unchanged however, as the expansion was planned from the start in case Igora Drive would be able to attract F1.
“There will definitely not be a global restructuring,” Titov explained. “In terms of size, the facility is not much different from European tracks if we talk about the main infrastructure, such as the main grandstand, the pit building and so on.
“Therefore, there will definitely not be any restructuring, but we will expand or lengthen a number of zones.
“There are really not enough garages, we will increase their number. But this is solved by temporary structures and neat aesthetic extensions to the building.”
Titov said the facility received the thumbs up from both FIA president Jean Todt as well as F1 chief Stefano Domenicali, who visited Igora last week.
“We received a very large number of positive reviews from [Domenicali],” Titov added.
“Of course, there are comments on the necessary points we need to pay attention to, so that the circuit is more applicable to Formula 1. But these are all comments of a technical nature.”